Explore the role of hatred and/or grief in any work (or works) of literature of your choice.

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4) Explore the role of hatred and/or grief in any work (or works) of literature of your choice. In their introduction of Aeschylus' 'The Oresteia', Robert Fagles and W.B Stanford include E.R Dodds' assertion that ancient mythology reflected the 'pathology of a culture ridden by its guilt' in the aftermath of many bloody wars and invasions. In Fagles' modern translation, he describes Aeschylus' trilogy ('Agamemnon', 'The Libation Bearers' and 'The Eumenides') as a work in which 'the dead pursued the living for revenge, and revenge could only breed more guilt.' If any other literary piece could satisfy such appraisal, it is Hamlet. If hatred and grief are the main aspects of tragedy, Hamlet is a tragic hero with a distinctly 'Senecan', flavour. (Arkins) For C. & M. Martindale, 'Seneca was the closest Shakespeare ever got to Greek tragedy.' Senecan translations may well have supplemented the Latin plays studied by Shakespeare at school in Stratford- indeed, Brian Arkins claims that the Greek's influence was 'in the Elizabethan air', and T.S Eliot wrote that 'No author exercised...a deeper influence upon the Elizabethan mind or...form of tragedy than did Seneca.' Cambridge itself was deeply influenced during the period, presenting two performances of 'The Trojan Women' and 'Medea' as well as another of 'Oedipus' between 1551 and 1563.


In this sense, though the sorrow of the company left to mourn in Cyprus is complete, audiences of this emotionally charged piece have long been divided over the extent of blame due to Othello for the devastation centred around him. Though the pernicious Iago could hardly fail to inspire hatred in a uniquely melodramatic, pantomimic manner, the grief inherent in such a distressing tale is tempered by the individual's reaction to the character flaws exhibited, and never truly repented of, by Othello. (Smith) Desdemona, as the unattainable and unsullied ideal of the chastity Emilia has long lacked, is subject both to Iago's spite and to his lascivious desire. Unconscious nemeses of Iago, Othello and Cassio are more successful, more desirable men; the latter of whom Iago himself describes as possessing 'a daily beauty in his life/ That makes me ugly.' Indeed, analysis of the play's final scene seems to highlight the disappointingly inadequate punishment this Judas receives. After so much malevolence, it seems unlikely that Iago will fall foul of his own conscience at Lodovico's behest. Thus for the company of Othello in Elizabethan England, just as for the cursed House of Atreus in Greek mythology, the cause of grief and atrocity is simple human hatred.


(Allingham) Events seem, as previously noted in the context of Hamlet and Othello, to be precipitated by the inherently human, dangerously pervasive impulses of hatred, and concluded with grief of various natures and subtleties. If it is wrong, even sinful to experience such hatred as leads to grief on private or public scales, it is perhaps Hamlet's 'own musings' (Best) which best explain the difficulty in attributing absolute responsibility or blame to those who begin these damaging cycles: oft it chances in particular men That, for some vicious mole of nature in them, As in their birth, wherein they are not guilty, Since nature cannot choose his origin; By the o'ergrowth of some complexion, Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason; ...that these men, Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect .. be they as pure as grace, ..Shall in the general censure take corruption From that particular fault. Hamlet (I.IV.25-38) The presence of hatred and grief in the midst of literature is a tool in illustrating morality, judgement and forgiveness in illuminating, though subtle ways. Though both hatred and grief are expressions of the deepest human pain, grief is afforded a licence in expression and form denied to censured hatred. The character who hates is tarred by their own darkness, but the tendency toward allegory in any piece frequently permits an enriching form of repentance.

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